UTA Research Institute scientist selected as finalist for Tech Titans award

Wednesday, Aug 07, 2019 • Dana Jennings : UT Arlington Media Relations

The biomedical innovations of a researcher at The University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute have earned him recognition as a finalist for the Tech Titans Technology Inventor Award.

Tech Titans, Texas’ largest technology trade association, selected Muthu Wijesundara, principal research scientist at UTARI, for breakthroughs that advance engineering, medicine and science.

Muthu Wijesundara (left), principal research scientist at UTARI, works on a flexible soft robotic glove that aids in rehabilitating stroke patients.

“We strive to create technologies that focus on robotic-aided rehabilitation and preventive care for neurological conditions and common injuries,” Wijesundara said. “It is a great honor to be recognized for work that will improve upon our existing health care practices to improve the quality of life of our patients.”

Within the past year, Wijesundara and his collaborators have taken major strides in advancing three game-changing biomedical technologies.

In September 2018, UTA patented a smart seat cushion that Wijesundara helped invent. It uses changes in air pressure to redistribute body weight and helps prevent painful ulcers caused by sitting for long periods of time in wheelchairs. The same technology has been used to create prosthetic liners that maintain a comfortable fit by adapting their shape to accommodate changes in body volume during the day.

In a separate project, Wijesundara is producing flexible soft robotic gloves that aid in rehabilitating stroke patients, with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer Fund.

In addition, Wijesundara’s REHEAL Glove, a revolutionary bioengineered healing glove for traumatic hand injuries, completed another key step toward commercialization, as he and his team successfully developed a manufacturing process. This process, which created 100 gloves for early-stage clinical trials, earned UTA the MTEC Prototype of the Year Acceleration Award.

“We have experienced profound success in recent years at UTARI as we continue to discover industry and clinical partners that share our vision and help move these products to spaces where we can see their full capability in transforming how we heal patients,” Wijesundara said.

Tech Titans represents roughly a quarter million employees through its 300 member companies focused on innovation in North Texas. The winner of the Technology Inventor Award and other categories will be announced on Aug. 23.

“Muthu has an incredible ability to develop his concepts and designs into powerfully innovative products,” said Mickey McCabe, UTARI executive director. “He represents the mission and purpose of UTARI at its strongest as he works tirelessly to take laboratory discoveries into the hands of the medical community.”